Chris Stapleton, one of the biggest stars in music, is coming to Country Thunder Saskatchewan in 2019.
Festival organizers took the fans by surprise Friday night by dropping the bombshell that Stapleton will be the Sunday night headliner in 2019. Stapleton burst onto the scene in 2015 with Traveller, his solo debut album, and followed up with From A Room: Volume 1 and From A Room: Volume 2, both released in 2017.
He has become one of the most decorated artists in country music. Stapleton has won seven Academy of Country Music awards, seven Country Music Association awards and five Grammy Awards, including three in 2018 — best country album (From A Room: Volume 1); best country solo performance (Either Way); and, best country song (Broken Halos).
Given Stapleton’s status in the music business and the fact that he has never played in Saskatchewan, it wasn’t easy getting his signature on the dotted line.
“It was like pulling teeth. It was a big challenge,” said Troy Vollhoffer, executive producer of Country Thunder Saskatchewan. “First of all, he doesn’t play a lot of festivals and he plays very few country festivals. In fact, I don’t know if he’s ever played a country festival, to be honest with you. He plays more eclectic festivals so we’re very fortunate to get him. Since he’s never played Saskatchewan, I think it’s a really cool opportunity since he’s one of the biggest acts in music.
“I don’t know how you would label what he does but I can say that he’s a man of many talents and he’s probably one of the hottest artists that is out there right now.”
Stapleton has been busy in recent months with his first solo headlining tour. The All-American Road Show Tour opened in May 2017 and is scheduled to finish in November 2018.
His popularity, like his music, crosses many boundaries and fans in Saskatchewan have been waiting impatiently for Stapleton to perform in the province.
“He was the No. 1 request of artists that we got from our fans,” said Vollhoffer, who added that the Country Thunder Saskatchewan date is currently the only show Stapleton has scheduled for Western Canada in 2019.
Attracting headliners to the festival is always a challenge, given variables such as tour schedules and performance fees. Vollhoffer is amazed that Stapleton finally agreed to come to Craven and play the festival.
“Just to get him to come to Canada was a challenge in itself, not because he doesn’t love Canada but this is an unrouted date, which is a one-off show,” said Vollhoffer. “He’s not touring Canada so we were very fortunate in an one-off situation to get him to come up here and take the stage in the middle of summer.”
So where does the 40-year-old Stapleton fall when it comes to a comparison with previous festival headliners like Tim McGraw, George Strait, Eric Church, Jason Aldean and Kenny Chesney?
“I would put him in the same category as Kenny Chesney at his pinnacle, except I think the difference between (Stapleton) and the other headliners is that he crosses the lines of music genres,” said Vollhoffer. “You can’t classify him in any one genre, whether it’s blues, rock, country, Americana, roots. He’s got such a cool thing going on.
“It’s pretty exciting.”
Stapleton has lived in Nashville since 2001 after signing a songwriting deal with Sea Gayle Music. He is a prolific and successful songwriter, having penned No. 1 singles for Chesney (Never Wanted Nothing More), Strait (Love’s Gonna Make It Alright), Luke Bryan (Drink A Beer), Darius Rucker (Come Back Song), Thomas Rhett (Crash & Burn) and Josh Turner (Your Man).
To say that Stapleton’s music style is eclectic would be an understatement — his music contains elements of country, southern rock, blues, bluegrass, Americana and soul. His distinctive tenor vocals also set Stapleton apart from most other artists.
While Traveller opened a number of doors for Stapleton, many consider his duet with Justin Timberlake at the 2015 CMA Awards as the turning point of his career. The duo performed Stapleton’s Tennessee Whiskey and Timberlake’s Drink You Away and the performance became a runaway hit on YouTube.
A limited number of early bird tickets are on sale for the 2019 festival. Four-day passes are available for $150 (plus taxes and fees) while Sunday single-day tickets are $85 (plus taxes and fees).
Tickets are available at the Country Thunder Saskatchewan site in Craven, online at countrythunder.com and by telephone (1-866-388-0007).
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